Welcome to "Been There" a new feature here at IT where we spotlight the lesson's you've learned on the road – the indispensable tidbits that you wish you had known before you left. IT friend Eric Wolff, who calls San Diego home and is a writer for City Beat, kicks us off with a handy how-to on negotiating your way down the Baja peninsula.
Right now, in Puerto Nuevo, Baja California, it’s langostino season, a time when a young gringo’s heart turns to delicious, delicious, clawless lobsters. Fresh caught, then fried and served with warm burritos and avocados, it's quite possibly the perfect meal, preferably if brought to a table with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Good stuff, and not the sort of thing one should miss because a few ne'er do wells are making off with some surfers’ gear, or because of rumors about corrupt cops. The rumors are true, of course, they’re just not a good reason to miss langostino season. Tourists just need to be careful and know the rules of the game.
Actually, there’s only one rule when it comes to the cops: pay the bribe. The going rate is $20, no more, no less. Here’s a textbook case of how to manage the corrupt officers of Tijuana and Baja, drawn from real-life experience – the very day, in fact, I first enjoyed tasty langostinos. My sister and I were driving through the labyrinth of downtown Tijuana after a day spent at CECUT and along Avenida Revolucion, trying to locate an entrance to the road to Baja. I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw the flashing lights of a police car. I pulled over. The cop ambled to the window and asked for my license and registration, which I gave him. Then he pulled out a piece of paper with a computer-printed table of moving violations and fines. He said the fine for whatever I did wrong (one downside of corrupt law enforcement is they’re so darn vague) would be $60, and I should follow him to the station. Fortunately, I knew the rule. I looked at him and said – and this is key – “I heard it was $20 if I pay right here and now, instead of going to the station.” He took the money, and even led me through a construction zone that put me on the highway. It’s nice to know that once you buy a cop, you get full service.
Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, langostinos. In Puerto Nuevo. Go for it.
What lessons have you learned on your travels? We want to hear them. Email us your story with "Been There" in the subject line, and we'll feature your tales from the road on IT.
Photo: [ ••> jeriko1kenobi <•• ] via Flickr